Today, I’d like to revisit a basic yet sometimes complex topic: Leadership. I just Googled the word Leadership. Here’s what I got….”About 1,990,000,000 results (1.20 seconds)”. Isn’t that astonishing?
Over 2 decades ago, I met a gentlemen who has been a mentor to me ever since. His name, Dr. John C. Maxwell. He has written more books (around 107) on the subject of Leadership and Development than anyone alive today and continues to.
John instilled in me a couple of very basic thoughts on leadership. First and foremost, Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership. Second, that Leadership is Influence, nothing more, nothing less. See, in reality, the subject doesn’t have to be as complex as we seem to want to make it. So, if you stick with me for a few minutes, I’d like to camp out on this idea that Leadership is Influence.
Leadership is about people skills, where management is about tasks, systems and processes. While all of the aforementioned are important to an organization, when we develop our ability to lead people, we have a tendency to get better results. So if we buy into this notion that Leadership is Influence, it’s important to dispel with a hand full of ideas about the subject (we call them leadership myths):
1) “I’m not a ‘born leader’, so I can’t lead”:
While all leaders certainly are born, not all are in fact blessed with natural leadership skills. That is, in fact, a very true statement. The good news is that your leadership skill can be developed, through work, effort, and perseverance.
2) “A Title and Seniority will automatically make me a Leader”:
While title and seniority may grant certain amount of leadership influence, your influence will never rise above that “positional” level, if your people don’t feel you care for and about them, and their needs. There’s a notion known as your “leadership lid”. Simple stated, you can never lead beyond the level of leadership that you personally possess. Hence, developing your abilities allows you to influence in a greater capacity.
3) “Work experience will automatically make me a Leader”:
No need to restate it other than how John stated it. And sorry, but for some, this may sting a little: “Leadership is like maturity. It doesn’t automatically come with age. Sometimes age comes alone. Tenure does create leadership ability. In fact, it’s more likely to engender entitlement than leadership ability.”
4) “I’m waiting until I get a ‘Position’ to start developing as a leader”:
This begs the question…”what if you never achieve a “leadership position”? Well, the reality is, you already have! Why? Because everybody influences somebody, at some point of their day. The question is, is the influence good, or is it destructive? Think about your social media accounts. Aren’t you influencing those you are connected to? Are you an employee, a parent, a sibling, a son or daughter, or a friend? Sure you are.
And on the subject of achieving a leadership “position”, the best time to start developing your leadership skill is before achieving that position, not after.
Hopefully, you’re starting to get the picture. Leadership is not a complex notion. It is a skill that can, in fact, be developed. Like John says: “If you start learning about leadership now, not only will you increase your opportunities, but you’ll also make the most out of them when they arrive”.
I truly hope this serves you well.